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A class 1 lever has the fulcrum in the middle and the load and effort on either end.

The fulcrum does

not have to be geometrically in the middle of the fulcrum; the important thing is that it is between the
load and effort. This seesaw is an example of a class 1 lever.

A screwdriver and a crowbar can both be used as first-class levers. A scissors is really a double lever
the fulcrum is the rivet in the middle, the effort force is applied with the fingers, and the load force is
what is cut.

A class 2 lever has the resistance or load in the middle, the fulcrum at one end and the effort
at the other. An example of a class 2 lever is a wheelbarrow, where the front wheel is the

wheelbarrow is a second-class lever. Both a nutcracker and a hinged car door are examples of
second-class levers. On the car, the hinge is the fulcrum, the effort is applied at the handle near
the edge of the door, and the resistance is the weight of the door itself.

What class lever is it? The mnemonic = FRE

One way to remember the classes of lever is to think FRE or free, as in: I want to be free of
confusion about levers.

The F stands for fulcrum, in the middle of a class 1 lever (e.g., seesaw).
The R stands for resistance (which is the same thing as the load), and it is in the middle
of a class 2 lever (e.g., wheelbarrow).
The E stands for effort, which is in the middle of a class 3 lever (e.g., broom).

A class 3 lever has the effort in the middle, the fulcrum at one end and the load at the other. An
example of a class 3 lever is a broom.

A broom is a third-class lever. Tweezers and tongs are pairs of third-class levers with the same
fulcrum. A fishing rod can be used as a third-class lever.


Levers in the body

The bones in the human body act as levers, with the joints fulfilling the role of pivot points. The
muscles provide the effort, and the weights of segments of the body or external weights
provide the load.
The human body provides examples of first, second, and third-class levers. First and third class
levers are the most common in the body.

As we saw in the last section, a characteristic of third-class levers is that they confer no
mechanical advantage. And the first-class levers in the body often operate with a mechanical
advantage less than 1. The human body is built for speed, rather than mechanical advantage!
First-class levers in the human body
An example of a first-class lever is provided by the head, top of the spine, and neck muscles. The
fulcrum of this system is the joint between the occipital bone at the base of the skull and the
atlas, the first vertebra of the neck. The weight of the head is like the load, tending to rotate the
head forward and down (as one might move if looking through a microscope or writing at a
desk). The neck extensor muscles exert the effort to hold the head up.

Second-class levers in the human body

When you do a press-up from the floor, your head, neck, trunk, and legs form a lever that has the
balls of the feet as fulcrum. The action of the arms raises the load. This is an example of a
second-class lever, with the effort at one end, the load in the middle, and the fulcrum at the other

A push-up turns the head, neck, trunk, and legs into a second-class lever.

Third-class levers in the human body

A biceps curl is an example of a third-class lever. The load is the weight held in the hand, the
fulcrum is the elbow joint and the effort is provided by the bicep muscles of the arm.
The contraction of the muscles in the upper arm pulls the lower arm up. The muscles move a
short distance compared to the end of the lever (the lower arm). The speed of movement in the
lower arm is helpful for throwing a ball or swinging a tennis racket.

Classes of levers. (a) In a first-class lever, the fulcrum (F) is set up between the resistance (R)
and the effort (M). (b) In a second-class lever, the resistance is between the fulcrum and the
effort. (c) In a third-class lever, the effort is between the fulcrum and the resistance.
to other muscles, or to fascia, which are connective tissue sheets between muscles.